Belarus still owes Venezuela nearly $1.5 billion, former minister confirms

Былы міністр пацвердзіў, што Беларусь не вярнула Венесуэле амаль $1,5 млрд
The Belarusians initially had no intention of returning the money / sample photo

Former Minister of Oil and Mines of Venezuela Rafael Ramirez  confirmed that Belarus has not paid nearly $ 1.5 billion to his country, which was a debt for oil supplies, made during the rule of Hugo Chavez.

A day earlier, the Belarusian Investigative Center, together with the Venezuelan media outlet Armando.Info and the Center for the Investigation of Corruption and Organized Crime OCCRP, published an investigation on the subject. After it was published, Ramirez, who worked for the government from 2002 to 2013, spoke out. He claimed that the oil contract for Belarus was disadvantageous for Venezuela, but they signed it anyway.

"First of all, Lukashenka told Chávez that he wanted to become independent of the Russians, because up to that point the Russians had supplied him with all the oil he needed, mostly through pipelines," the former minister said. According to him, part of the payment for the oil was supposed to be exchanged for the work that the Belarusians were doing in Venezuela (construction and other work). But at some point the Belarusians didn't fulfill this condition.

"What you say about the amount of 1.4 billion sounds more like 2 billion to me, that's the amount I have in my head," says Rafael Ramirez. "...At some point they started refusing to pay. Especially when President Chávez was sick. When Chavez died, the first thing I said to Nicolas Maduro was that there was a debt that Belarus owed to Venezuela, it was documented, there were documents, and you as the president had to exert pressure. Maduro did nothing. I remember when Maduro went to Belarus during his tour and he wouldn't let me go to a meeting because he knew I was going to collect that debt".

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